Sunday 6.15.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. No Money, No Time

“My experience is the time equivalent of a high-interest loan cycle, except instead of money, I borrow time. But this kind of borrowing comes with an interest rate of its own: By focusing on one immediate deadline, I neglect not only future deadlines but the mundane tasks of daily life that would normally take up next to no time or mental energy. It’s the same type of problem poor people encounter every day, multiple times: The demands of the moment override the demands of the future, making that future harder to reach.”

2. Calling Back a Zombie Ship From the Graveyard of Space

“For 17 years, it has been drifting on a lonely course through space. Launched during the disco era and shuttered by NASA in 1997, the spacecraft is now returning to the civilization that abandoned it … But now, a shoestring group of civilians headquartered in a decommissioned McDonald’s have reached out and made contact with it.”

3. Minority Gun Owners Face Balancing Act, Weighing Isolation and Stigma of Violence

“At a time when gun issues are volatile nationally and sales are increasing, minority gun owners — whether black, Asian or Latino — may feel that their weighing of the practical pros and cons of gun ownership comes up against the conservatism and unyielding stances of the N.R.A. and some other gun advocates.”

4. The Nation’s Economy, This Side of the Recession

“The middle class has lost ground as the greatest gains have occurred at the top and bottom of the pay scale, leaving even many working Americans living in poverty.”

5. Finding Shock Absorbers for Student Debt

“We should allow student-loan payments to rise and fall with income, as we do with Social Security and taxes. If borrowers hit a tough spell, payments should drop automatically. If they score well-paying jobs, payments should rise. This is called ‘income-based repayment.’”

6. Naked Confessions of the College-Bound

“The essay is where our admissions frenzy and our gratuitously confessional ethos meet.”

7. The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth

“Counterintuitive though it may sound, the greater peacefulness of the world may make the attainment of higher rates of economic growth less urgent and thus less likely.”

8. Poetry: Who Needs It?

“My ideal elementary-school curriculum would instead require all children to learn: (1) the times tables up to, say, 25; (2) a foreign language, preferably obscure; (3) the geography of a foreign land, like New Jersey; (4) how to use basic hand tools and cook a cassoulet; (5) how to raise a bird or lizard (if the child is vegetarian, then a potato); (6) poems by heart, say one per week; (7) how to find the way home from a town at least 10 miles away; (8) singing; (9) somersaults. With all that out of the way by age 12, there’s no telling what children might do.”

9. Finding Her Future Looking to the Past

“If you really do want to analyze me, if that’s maybe something you’re interested in, let me tell you my story and you can look at that.”

10. At the Tone, Leave a What?

“The concept of leaving (and checking) voice mail is, to millennials, as obsolete as swing-dancing and playing NHL ‘94 on Sega Genesis.”

11. Office Max

“His book, he tells us at the very start, is inspired by White Collar, the great study by the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills from 1951. By the end of Cubed, what exactly inspired Saval has become clear: It is Mills’s worry that white-collar workers are an oppressed class, and also that, because they are resistant to unions and convinced of the American dream, they are passive in their own defense. They may fantasize trashing the office, but they do nothing effective about their rage.”

12. Silicon Valley Tries to Remake the Idea Machine

“We are not a research center. We think of ourselves as a moonshot factory, and the reasons for using that phrase is the word ‘moonshot’ reminds us to be audacious, and the word ‘factory’ reminds us we have to industrialize it in the end.”

13. Nathan Fielder’s Ingenious Dumb Humor

“‘Nathan for You’ featured its own warped homage to Houdini-style spectacle during a Season 1 episode, in which Fielder raced to free himself from handcuffs before a robot arm undid his pants in front of an audience of children — while an L.A.P.D. officer stood by to arrest him if necessary for indecent exposure.”

14. The Intimacy of Anonymity

“If Facebook is like a never-ending high school reunion, and Twitter serves up water-cooler chatter, the anonymous spaces promise some mixture of drunken party talk, group therapy and the confession booth, absent the hangovers, scheduled meetings and Hail Marys.”

15. Thanks for Sharing

“3.5 million+ YouTube views for ‘Everything You Know About Penises Is Wrong.”

16. The Dreamer

“It is, perhaps, like no other film ever made.”

17. The Woman on Top of the World

“Black women have always been dominant figures in American popular music, but no one, not even Aretha Franklin, has reached the plateau that Beyoncé occupies: pop star colossus, adored bombshell, ‘America’s sweetheart.’”

18. I Am Someone, Look At Me

“The desire for fame is first and foremost, and perhaps no more than, the desire of a child. For most people, finding ways of handling it — of putting the needs of others before one’s own — is a part of becoming an adult. For a very few people, it remains unmanageable.”

19. The Most Brilliant American Fashion Designer

“We’re told to dress for ourselves, not for our men. That smart can be sexy and sexy can be smart. That confidence is all that really matters. Hawes was prescient along these lines, but also more cynically honest. Rather than trot out the cozy lie that getting dressed is a noble way to express oneself, she told the truth: ‘If you’ve solved your dressing problems satisfactorily for yourself, you are bound to attract the people you want to attract and for the reasons you want to attract them: a better job, a new mate, a competent lover, a fresh friend.’ For Hawes, fashion could — and should — be goal-oriented. Proactive ambition, much more than vague self-assurance, was her unspoken brand of feminism.”

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